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Kentucky Republican Bunning with Obama on gas-tax holiday


Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning spoke out Tuesday against a seasonal suspension of federal gas taxes, putting him at odds with his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Bunning said that suspending the federal 18.4-cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline wouldn’t be “even close to a temporary fix” to sky-high fuel prices and “won’t really relieve the pressure at the pump.”

Talk of a summertime gas tax holiday has caught on with some politicians, including Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has derided the proposal as a gimmick.

The conservative Bunning grudgingly conceded he’s on the same side with Obama on that one issue.

“Unfortunately, I happen to agree with him,” Bunning said.

The issue has become a hot topic in the Democratic presidential race, which will turn considerably more attention in the coming days to Kentucky, which has its primary election on May 20.

Ray Mabus, an Obama supporter and former Mississippi governor, decried the gas tax suspension proposal while campaigning for the Illinois senator in Kentucky this week. In Owensboro, Mabus said the gas tax holiday would save the average consumer about 30 cents a day, The Messenger-Inquirer of Owensboro reported.

He suggested a suspension would cause gas prices to rise. “Probably what’s going to happen if you take that tax off, oil companies are just going to raise the price of gas back up to where it was,” Mabus said in a story published in the newspaper.

Bunning said Tuesday that suspending gas tax collections would cost the federal road fund several billion dollars in revenue. He predicted general tax dollars would be shifted to replace the lost revenue, adding to the nation’s debt. “It sticks my grandkids with the tab, and I’m not for doing that,” he said.

Bunning said the way to reduce oil prices is to increase domestic energy production. He is co-sponsoring legislation that includes allowing drilling in the Alaska refuge and promoting coal-to-liquid fuels.

Bunning said developing liquefied coal as a motor fuel substitute would be a winner for Kentucky, one of the nation’s leading coal producers. The energy bill introduced last week by Bunning and a number of other GOP senators would require that 6 billion gallons of coal-derived fuels by used in the country by 2022.

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